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Battered Phoenix look to begin winning run

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/11/2016 Cathy Walshe

One win will not be enough for Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick.

The Phoenix have lost their first four games of the season, with Monday's 6-1 mauling by Melbourne Victory still very raw as they refocus for Saturday's A-League clash against Newcastle Jets.

Merrick describes the match as more than just a must-win for Wellington.

"So's the following week and the week after that. If we don't go on a run of wins, we're not going to achieve anything.

"One game is not enough."

The return of central defender Marco Rossi will bolster Wellington's defence, with the Phoenix sorely missing his experience against Victory after the 29-year-old Italian was a late withdrawal due to a quad strain.

But while Merrick wants more discipline from his back four - they have conceded four penalties in four games - he's also looking for an improved all-round defensive effort.

"It's not just the back line when you talk about defence," he said.

"I think we could defend a lot better, hence a little bit of work on defence at the front today."

Merrick also hinted at possible changes to his line-up as he looks to halt an eight-game winless A-League run that extends four matches into last season.

Some changes will be injury-driven - first-choice left back Tom Doyle and stand-in defender Adam Parkhouse are sidelined with hamstring strains.

Young Western Australian Ryan Lowry is a possible starter, while Louis Fenton could get the nod at right back.

"When you lose four games in a row, it's sometimes wise to make sure your structure's right and everyone plays to the structure," Merrick said.

"It usually means you're going to change a player or two, and we may do that."

Merrick has been closely studying the Jets, who sit sixth on the ladder with a win, two draws and a loss from four games.

They are coming off a 2-0 defeat by Sydney FC after looking at their best in their 4-0 round two win over Brisbane Roar.

"They certainly defend in numbers and they rely on a counter-attacking game which worked well for them against Brisbane."


* Newcastle are enjoying their longest-ever winning streak against the Phoenix, having won each of their past three encounters.

* Wellington have scored only two goals in their past six games at home and were scoreless in the past three.

* The Jets have conceded only three yellow cards in their four games, making them by far the most disciplined of any team in the competition, while the Phoenix have collected 11 yellow and one red.

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